Soused rainbow trout with pink peppercorns and lemon zest

Meat-free January has been well and truly scuppered by the opening of the #MEATEASY. I’m still trying to plug the gaps though, what few of them there are, with fish and vegetables. In the absence of mackerel in the fishmonger on Saturday, I was looking around for something else to souse; the monger advised me to try these pretty rainbow trout – a good price at £7 for three, yielding 6 healthy-sized fillets.

Although by sousing you are effectively cooking the fish by pickling it, I’d heard that different types of fish can carry parasites, which are usually killed by heat. Tales of tapeworms started to freak me out. I called the fishmonger. He told me that with wild trout it would be a concern but as these were farmed and fairly small, they wouldn’t have had a chance to catch any parasites; I didn’t have to worry about breaking my meat-fast too early. If you’re still worried or you’re using wild trout though, freezing the fish first will kill off any unwanted extra protein.

For the sousing liquid: pink peppercorns, coriander seed, lemon zest and spring onion. I used to think pink peppercorns were just wanky show-boating, until I bought a bag and realised that the flavour is really unique; perfumed, almost rosy. Less heat than their black relatives but way more aromatic.

The trout ends up with a delicious sweet and sour flavour, like a posh roll mop and the flesh firms during sousing yet keeps that wonderful silken feel of raw fish. We ate it with a sweet cucumber salad and I’d love to try it with some roasted cherry tomatoes. I can see myself doing a lot of sousing actually, it ticks all the January boxes: healthy (tick!); cheap (tick!); easy (tick!). Win.

Soused rainbow trout

3 small rainbow trout, scaled and filleted (you can use another fish, but make sure to use an oily one)
350ml good quality white wine vinegar
50g sugar
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible; I had to use dried since my tree died in the snow)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 good hefty pinches pink peppercorns
2 spring onions, cut into short lengths
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

Put all the marinade ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil. Leave to cool and check for tartness, you may want more sugar in which case add some and heat again.

Wash the fish fillets, pat them dry then arrange them in a shallow dish in one layer. Once the sousing liquid is completely cool, pour it over the fish making sure they are completely submerged. Cover and leave for 24 hours in the fridge.

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21 thoughts on “Soused rainbow trout with pink peppercorns and lemon zest

  1. I love your pics in general, but these are exceptionally interesting. The food looks so delicately put together and your presentation is terrific. Plus, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of pink peppercorn. – Gary

  2. Looks very good and I must try this. As my new year resolution is to experiment with new ideas and techniques. Should be easy as I already cure salmon in a beetroot marinade.

  3. This looks tasty, healthy and beautiful. What a top combo. It’s really interesting to hear that about pink peppercorns, because I’ve always wondered how they different to the regular ones. Now I know, and they don’t half add to the overall appearance of the dish.

  4. God this looks amazing. And the colours in that pan too! Here’s a thing too – try pink peppercorns raw as a pre-dinner nibble. They’re great!

  5. Looks delicious and seems like a great alternative to meat too with it being firm in texture.

    I’ve not tried pickling fish but I must give it a go, Stephen adores the stuff.

  6. Lizzie – Well I think I ordered the mackerel at Franklins because I wanted to get some inspiration for my sousing but I remember it being a bit disappointing if I’m honest. Sorry Franklins!

    Oliver – well as I said it’s somewhere in between. It’s still silky like raw fish but firm to the bite.

  7. Never tried soused but I do love an escabeche where the fish is fried before soaking. Looks good though! Where did you buy your pink peppercorns? I remember seeing them a lot with fish in Finland.

  8. Wow this looks great.

    Can I ask – what is the texture like of the fish when done – does it feel ‘cooked’ in the mouth or more like ceviche or cured fish?


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